CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – Oliver Stone reached the peak of his fascination with controversy, history, and epic productions when he made 1991’s “JFK,” arguably the masterpiece of the director of “Platoon,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Nixon,” and many more beloved films. “JFK” is a remarkable cinematic achievement, a movie that has lost none of its power 22 years after its release, looking like something that could come out today, especially now that we’re in the peak of Kennedy mania as we approach the 50th anniversary of his assassination, one of the most important events in American history.
CHICAGO – There was a time when it looked like not only would Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton be one of our great actors but possibly a threat behind the camera as well. Everyone knows the impression of his character from “Sling Blade” but many forget that he directed it as well. He followed that up with the flawed but ambitious and interesting “All the Pretty Horses.”
CHICAGO – Did everyone see “Men in Black”? Or the film’s two sequels? They you saw “R.I.P.D.,” which unfortunately for the production team has “rip” in the title, because the film is a lazy rewrite and rip-off of “MiB.” Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds are the protectors assigned in this one.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new 3D supernatural action/adventure “R.I.P.D.” starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges!
CHICAGO – The fascination with extreme criminals basically fuels the most popular prime time TV dramas. In “The Following,” it’s a serial killer – in the mold of Hannibal Lecter – that befuddles an FBI agent portrayed by Kevin Bacon. The premiere is on FOX on January 21st, at 9pm ET/8pm CT.
CHICAGO – Warner Brothers has been unleashing catalog titles on Blu-ray at a rate that would strain the bank account of pro athletes. Every week lately sees a wave of movies that have never been on Blu-ray before joining the HD revolution. This quartet is particularly varied with one timeless classic, an underrated performance from an underrated actor, and two moderate action movies. Pick your favorite. My order of preference is as follows:
CHICAGO – Glenn Ficarra & John Requa do strong directorial work yet and the script by Dan Fogelman is strong but “Crazy, Stupid, Love” works primarily due to the sheer, incredible talent of its amazing cast. With a stellar mix of Oscar-nominated veterans, two of the most engaging actors of their generation, and even a few talented newcomers, this is easily one of the best ensembles of the year. They were attracted by a film that treats love like the silly, goofy, wacky, crazy, stupid thing it needs to be. Sure, it’s broad and a bit cliched, but so is its subject matter.
CHICAGO – If you’re gonna cut loose, “Footloose,” it is best to do what the production team and cast did in cutting this remake of the 1980s kitschy classic – pay deep homage to the source and modify it with a energetic and contemporary spin on the dance floor.
CHICAGO – One of the easiest ways for a creatively starved studio to manufacture a box office hit is to bank on the nostalgia of a beloved cult classic. A remake will not only attract old fans but inspire new moviegoers to rent the deluxe edition of the original, now carrying the self important label of, “The Film That Defined a Generation.”
CHICAGO – In many ways, “X-Men: First Class” is the most loyal film yet to the Marvel aesthetic in the way director Matthew Vaughn and the film’s multiple screenwriters capture the tone, spirit, and themes of one of the most legendary comic books of all time. It is a spectacular mix of great performances, well-choreographed action, and cleverly-revised history. It is crowd-pleasing to action fans and yet intellectually complex at the same time. It is what more producers of superhero movies should strive to accomplish and it deserves mention with the best of the genre (“Spider-Man 2,” “X-Men,” and even “The Dark Knight”).